Aircraft Propeller CFD Simulation Using Mesh Motion, ANSYS Fluent Training

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In this project, the analysis of thrust and lift forces behind the propeller on the fuselage is examined by ANSYS Fluent software.

This product includes a Mesh file and a comprehensive Training Movie.

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Project Description

Propulsion is a device used to convert mechanical force into thrust in aircraft and ships. The movement of air or water provides the necessary thrust. A propeller consists of two or more twisted blades. When the propeller rotates around its axis, the lift produced by these blades moves the air in a horizontal direction.

In advanced systems, the propellers are responsible for converting the rotational power of the engine crankshaft (in piston engines) into propulsion. This force is equal to the product of the mass of air pushed back by the propeller per second and the velocity given to the airflow. If a person is standing on the ground behind a rotating propeller while the aircraft is stationary, he can fully feel the airflow. In principle, the propeller blade is like a small wing that produces aerodynamic force. This aerodynamic force can be broken down into one component of the force along the axis of the aircraft (propulsion force) and another component in the propeller blade plate (torque force).

In this project, the analysis of thrust and lift forces behind the propeller on the fuselage is examined by ANSYS Fluent software.

Geometry & Mesh

First, the geometry of the plane and the propeller in Solidworks software are designed and modeled to create the mesh and create the grid and name the boundary conditions. The geometry file is implemented in ANSYS Meshing software.


The mesh is carried out in ANSYS Meshing software. The elements are used first as tetrahedral and then using polyhedral mesh Fluent, which has fewer cells and better quality.



The types of three-dimensional elements used in this mesh are tetrahedra and polyhedral, shown in the figures above.

Aircraft and propeller modeling is performed in two zones of rotational and fixed.

The rotating computational domain must rotate around the impeller axis to model the impeller rotational motion using the Mesh Motion method. Due to the greater importance of the impeller in the problem results, it is preferable to mesh around it with more refined elements. The cylindrical computational domain around the impeller with a value of 1.12 impeller diameter is considered, and in that area, the meshing is done more accurately. The rotational domain is located inside the fixed zone, and is separated using interface that transfer values ​​between these two domains.

The element number is equal to 3812519 for tetrahedral and 692023, for polyhedral mesh type.

Mesh Quality





Aspect Ratio


CFD Simulation

We consider several assumptions to simulate the present model:

  • We perform a pressure-based solver.
  • The simulation is unsteady.
  • The gravity effect on the fluid is ignored.

The following table represents a summary of the defining steps of the problem and its solution:

Viscous k-omega
k-omega model SST
Cell zone conditions
Fluid-r  Rotation zone axis z 1800 rpm
Boundary conditions
Inlet Velocity Inlet
velocity magnitude 2 m/s
Outlet Pressure Outlet
gauge pressure 0 pa
Wall Wall
flight wall
propeller wall
stationary  wall motion Cylinder-s
Rotary wall motion Cylinder-r
Pressure-Velocity Coupling SIMPLE
Pressure PRESTO
momentum first order upwind
turbulent kinetic energy first order upwind
specific dissipation rate first order upwind
gradient Least squares cell base
Initialization methods Standard
gauge pressure 0 pa
velocity 2 m/s
Material properties Standard
density 1.225 kg.m-3
viscosity 1.086e-6 kg.m-1.s-1

Scaling analysis for rotational impeller simulation is such that the number of advanced coefficients must be paid in this modeling. The advanced coefficient is based on the relationships used for similar samples according to the table below.


Tip Speed Ratio (TSR) = 1/ J = V/(n*d)

D: impeller diameter = 0.0532 m

n: impeller speed = 1800 rpm = 30 rad/s

As a result, for J = 1.225, the flow velocity is calculated at 2 m/s.

According to the calculations performed, these boundary conditions can be used to simulate different propeller scales.

Results & Discussions

The results obtained from the simulation of lift and drag values for the fuselage are also the thrust and torque values for the propeller, which are shown in the following diagrams.



In the present work, simulations have been performed around the plane and the propeller, and the values ​​of drag and lift force on the fuselage and thrust, and torque on the impeller have been obtained. Also, the contours, vectors, and flow lines represent the flow physics formed around this.

This modeling showed that by observing the advance ratio for each propeller, working points can be defined as the relationship between flow velocity and propeller rotational speed. But more specifically, to have an entirely correct simulation, we need more criteria, such as the Reynolds number based on impeller speed and the flow velocity.

From experimental studies and previous work, it can be seen that to simulate rotating impellers, it is necessary to use the Advance ratio criterion with the values ​​of propeller speed and velocity in terms of the criteria of the two Reynolds numbers mentioned above. For a similar propeller, it is valid that the Reynolds calculated with these numbers be larger than the critical Reynolds for that particular propeller. In this case, it can model and simulate aircraft and propellers based on the advance ratio of real work points.

There are a Mesh file and a comprehensive Training Movie that presents how to solve the problem and extract all desired results.


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